The Revolt of Islam
, civil war
, french revolution
Shelley's preface begins (1818):
"The Poem which I now present to the world is an attempt from which I scarcely dare to expect success, and in which a writer of established fame might fail without disgrace. It is an experiment on the temper of the public mind, as to how far a thirst for a happier condition of moral and political society survives, among the enlightened and refined, the tempests which have shaken the age in which we live. I have sought to enlist the harmony of metrical language, the ethereal combinations of the fancy, the rapid and subtle transitions of human passion, all those elements which essentially compose a Poem, in the cause of a liberal and comprehensive morality; and in the view of kindling within the bosoms of my readers a virtuous enthusiasm for those doctrines of liberty and justice, that faith and hope in something good, which neither violence nor misrepresentation nor prejudice can ever totally extinguish among mankind."
Performing the poem is a demonstration that such passions remain alive.
November 10, 2010
A Parable of Liberation and Freedom
Percy Bysshe Shelley stated that the goal of the poem was to stimulate "a virtuous enthusiasm for those doctrines of liberty and justice, that faith and hope in something good, which neither violence nor representation nor prejudice can ever totally extinguish among mankind." Written in 1817 and published as Laon and Cythna, the work was revised and edited and republished in 1818 as The Revolt of Islam. Christian Pecaut presents an excellent reading of the classic work.